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Sunday, October 01, 2017

David "Davy" Crockett

David Crockett was born 8/17/1786 in Greene County, TN to John Wesley Crockett (DOB 8/17/1754 in Crockett's Creek, Wythe County, VA; DOD 1/30/1834 in Gibson, Gibson County, TN) and Rebecca Sullivan Hawkins (DOB Abt 1764 in MD; DOD Abt 1796 in Rutherford, Gibson County, TN). He was the fifth of nine children born. At the time many of the region’s residents considered themselves citizens of the State of Franklin, a breakaway territory that had declared its independence from North Carolina two years earlier. Supporters of the movement — including Crockett’s father, John — pushed for Franklin to enter the union as the 14th U.S. state, but the fledgling territory fell just shy of the required vote total in Congress. Following a stint as an independent republic, Franklin was eventually reclaimed by North Carolina in 1789. By 1796, its lands had become part of the newly formed state of Tennessee.

The Crocketts were of mostly French-Huguenot ancestry. The earliest known paternal ancestor was Gabriel Gustave de Crocketagne, whose son Antoine de Saussure Peronette de Crocketagne was given a commission in the Household Troops under French King Louis XIV. Antoine married Louise de Saix and immigrated to Ireland with her, changing the family name to Crockett. Their son Joseph Louis Crockett, was born in Ireland and married Sarah Stewart. Joseph and Sarah emigrated to New York, where their son William David Crockett was born in 1709. He married Elizabeth Boulay. William and Elizabeth's son David Crockett was born in Pennsylvania and married Elizabeth Hedge. They were the parents of John Wesley Crockett, father of Davy Crockett.

John was born c. 1753 in Frederick County, Virginia. The family moved to Tryon County, North Carolina c. 1768. In 1776, the family moved to northeast Tennessee, in the area now known as Hawkins County. John was one of the Overmountain Men who fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolutionary War. He was away as a militia volunteer in 1777 when David and Elizabeth were killed at their home near today's Rogersville by Creeks and Chickamauga Cherokees led by war chief Dragging Canoe. John's brother, Joseph, was wounded in the skirmish. His brother James was taken prisoner and held for seventeen years.

John married Rebecca Hawkins in 1780. Their son, David "Davy" Crockett, was born August 17, 1786, and they named him after John's father. David was born in what is now Greene County, Tennessee (at the time part of North Carolina), close to the Nolichucky River and near the community of Limestone. Crockett's father taught him to shoot a rifle when he was just 8 years old. As a youngster, he eagerly accompanied his older brothers on hunting trips.

Davy Crockett began his formal education began at 12 or 13, when his father arranged for him to attend a local school. “I went four days,” the frontiersman later wrote in his autobiography, “and had just began to learn my letters a little, when I had an unfortunate falling out with one of the scholars—a boy much larger and older than myself.” The strong-willed Crockett eventually ambushed the bully after class and gave him a severe beating. He then began skipping school to avoid punishment. When his father tried to give him a whipping, he ran away from home joining a cattle drive.

John continually struggled to make ends meet, and the Crocketts moved to a tract of land on Lick Creek in 1792. John sold that tract of land in 1794 and moved the family to Cove Creek, where he built a gristmill with partner Thomas Galbraith. A flood destroyed the gristmill and the Crockett homestead. The Crocketts then moved to Mossy Creek in Jefferson County, Tennessee, but John forfeited his property in bankruptcy in 1795. The family next moved on to property owned by a Quaker named John Canady. At Morristown in the Southwest Territory, John built a tavern on a stage coach route.

Following the moves of the family.

Frederick County, VA

Tryon County, NC

Hawkins County, TN

Rogersville, Hawkins County, TN in red

Greene County, TN - Greene County developed from the "Nolichucky settlement," established by pioneer Jacob Brown on land leased in the early 1770s from the Cherokee people. The Nolichucky settlement was aligned with the Watauga settlement, centered in modern Elizabethton. After the United States became independent, Greene County was formed in 1783 from the original Washington County, North Carolina, part of the former Washington District. The county is named for Major General Nathanael Greene (1742-1786), a major general in the Continental Army from Rhode Island. John Crockett, father of Davy Crockett, and his wife settled in the county near Limestone. David was born there in 1786. At the time, the area was part of the extra-legal state Franklin.

Greeneville (county seat)

Census-designated place:
Fall Branch (partial)

Unincorporated communities:
Camp Creek
Cross Anchor
Horse Creek
Liberty Hill
Limestone (Washington College Academy was founded in Limestone in 1780 by Rev. Samuel Doak, and was the first institution to bear the name of the first American president. Limestone was the birthplace of David Crockett (1786) to John and Rebecca Crockett.)
South Greene
Crockett's birth cabin in Greene county, TN

Lick Creek, Greene County, TN

Cove Creek, Greene county, TN

Jefferson county, TN

Mossy Creek, Jefferson City, Jefferson county, TN

Morristown, Hamblen county, TN - Morristown is a city in and the county seat of Hamblen County, TN. Morristown is primarily located in Hamblen County while a small portion of the city is located in Jefferson County. The first European settler of what eventually became Morristown was farmer Gideon Morris from the Watauga Settlement, a short-lived semi-autonomous settlement located in northeast Tennessee that was originally leased from the resident Cherokee tribes during the 1770s. It was here that John Wesley Crockett built a tavern and settled down. When Davy was 12 years old, his father indentured him to Jacob Siler to help with the Crockett family indebtedness. He helped tend Siler's cattle as a buckaroo on a 400-mile trip to near Natural Bridge, VA. He was well treated and paid for his services but, after several weeks in Virginia, he decided to return home to Tennessee. He joined a cattle drive to Front Royal, VA for Jesse Cheek. Then he joined teamster Adam Myers on a trip to Gerrardstown, WV. After leaving Myers, he journeyed to Christiansburg, VA, where he apprenticed for the next four years with hatter Elijah Griffith. In 1802, at the age of 16, David journeyed by foot back to his father's tavern in Tennessee. His father was in debt to Abraham Wilson for $36, so David was hired out to Wilson to pay off the debt. Later, he worked off a $40 debt to John Canady. Once the debts were paid, John Crockett told his son that he was free to leave. David returned to Canady's employment, where he stayed for four years.

Franklin County, TN

Lawrence Count, TN

 Lincoln County, TN

Gibson County, TN - Gibson County is located in what was known as "Indian Land": territory occupied by the Chickasaw. The Chickasaw Cession, proclaimed on January 7, 1819, opened the region for settlement by white settlers and speculators. Soon after the Chickasaw Cession, the first log cabin in what was Carroll County had been built by Thomas Fite about eight miles east of present-day Trenton. In 1819 Thomas Fite built the first cabin in Gibson County, which was then part of Carroll County. Luke Biggs, Davy Crockett, and others followed. From 1819 the area was part of Carroll County but, as settlement progressed, citizens petitioned for the formation of a new county. The county was established by private act on October 21, 1823 and was named in honor of Colonel John H. Gibson who had died earlier that year. Gibson was a native of Bedford County, Tennessee who was commissioned Lieutenant in the Tennessee Militia; he took part in the War of 1812, the campaign to Natchez of 1813, and fought in the Creek Wars of 1813. In its early years, Gibson County grew rapidly, chiefly because the land had less dense forest growth than some adjacent areas and was therefore more easily prepared to farm cotton and corn. In 1837 the county line between Gibson and Weakley counties was adjusted to include the southwestern corner of Weakley County, all land below the South Fork of the Obion in Gibson County. This simplified travel to a county seat by eliminating the need for river crossings but thereby robbed Weakley County of its most famous citizen, David Crockett, who had been killed in Texas the year before. In 1871 the newly created Crocket County acquired Gibson County territory south of the Middle Fork of the Forked Deer River for essentially the same reasons.-Wikipedia

Humboldt (partial)
Trenton (county seat)

Kenton (partial)

Unincorporated communities:
Frog Jump

Neighboring Counties:

The places Crockett and his immediate family lived in.

Crockett fell in love with John Canady's niece, Amy Summer, but she was engaged to Canady's son, Robert. As part of the wedding party, Crockett met Margaret Elder. He asked her to marry him and a marriage contract was drawn up on October 21, 1805 (Davy was 19 yrs old) but the fickle Margaret became engaged to another young man at the same time and married him instead. He met Mary Elizabeth "Polly" Finley, and her mother, at a harvest festival. In his autobiography Crockett recalled "she looked sweeter than sugar". They fell in love. Her mother was friendly to him at first but felt Crockett was not right for Polly. Crockett would marry Polly, regardless. He took out a marriage license on 8/12/1806. He and some of his friends came to pick up Polly to go get married but her father insisted she be married at home. They were married 8/16/1806 at Finleys Gap, Jefferson county, TN. They married at her parents home despite her mother's original objections.

Mary "Polly" Finley was born 1/4/1788 in Jefferson County, TN to William Finley (DOB Abt 1765; DOD Abt 1819) and Jean Kennedy.

Davy and Polly Crockett had 3 children:

1) John Wesley Crockett (DOB 7/10/1807 in Franklin County, TN, DOD 11/24/1854 in Shelby County, TN) married Martha Turner Hamilton.

2) William Finley Crockett (DOB 11/25/1809 in Jefferson County, TN; DOD 1/12/1846 in Arkansas County, AR) married Clorinda Boyett.

3) Margaret Finley Crockett (DOB 11/25/1812 in Franklin County, TN; DOD Abt 1860 in Gibson County, TN) married Wiley Flowers.

In 1813, 27-year-old Crockett was among the thousands of Tennesseans who joined the state militia to fight against the “Red Sticks,” a faction of Creek Indians who had attacked American settlers at Fort Mims, Alabama. Crockett spent most of the Creek War working as a scout and wild game hunter, but he was also present when future president Andrew Jackson—then the commander of Tennessee’s militia—led his volunteers in the slaughter of some 200 Red Sticks at the Creek village of Tallushatchee. He participated in this massacre of Indians at Tallussahatchee in northern Alabama, but returned home when his enlistment was up, Crockett later served as a sergeant during Jackson’s War of 1812 campaign in Spanish Florida, but saw little action before his enlistment ended in 1815.

James and Margaret Elizabeth Patton moved to Tennessee and James Patton fought in the Creek Wars. As he lay dying he asked his friend and fellow Indian fighter, David Crockett, to take his personal effects back to his wife. David honored his friend’s dying request and in the process of returning the personal belongings, met Elizabeth Patton.

Crockett tried his hand at everything from farming to manufacturing wood barrels and gunpowder, but he found his greatest success as a professional hunter. He spent much of his life stalking black bears in the woods of Tennessee and selling their pelts, meat and oil for profit. He even claimed to have bagged 105 of the animals in a seven-month period during the winter of 1825-26.

Not long after his return from the Creek Wars, Polly Finley Crockett died at the age of 27 years old in March 1815 in Bean's Creek, Franklin County, TN. The oldest child was only 8 yrs old and the youngest was only 3 yrs old. Crockett asked his brother, John, and his sister-in-law to move in with him to help care for the children. Later that same year, he would marry the widow Elizabeth Patton. After Polly's death, he thought of the pretty Widow Patton whom he had met when he took her husband's personal effects to her to tell her that her husband had died in the Creek Wars. Upon inquiry, he found that she had moved back to her father’s home in Swannanoa in Buncombe County, NC. He followed her there. Elizabeth Patton was not “bowled over,” and it took Crockett a considerable length of time to persuade her to marry him. After they married and returned to Tennessee, Crockett was a frequent visitor to Buncombe County. David and his companions frequently traveled the road from Asheville to Old Fort by way of Black Mountain. When a toll charge was put on this road, Crockett and others were furious, and decided to find another way to get from Asheville to Old Fort. Crockett went up the old Asheville-Charlotte Road (now U.S. 74) to Fairview.

Margaret Elizabeth "Betsy" Patton was born 5/22/1788 in Buncombe County, North Carolina. She married her first cousin, James Patton (DOB Abt 1784 in Buncombe County, NC; DOD 11/23/1814 of multiple wounds during the Creek Indian War in Blount County, AL) on 4/7/1808 in Kentucky. They had two children: George Patton and Margaret Ann Patton.

Davy and Betsy Crockett had three children:

1) Robert Patton Crockett (DOB 9/8/1816 in Franklin County, TN; DOD 9/23/1889 in Hood County, TX) married Matilda Porter, Louise Adeline Causey Wohlford, Lydia A Eaton Corley Ellis

2) Rebecca Elvira Crockett (DOB 12/25/1818 in TN; DOD 3/23/1879 in Acton, Hood County, TX) married George Kimbrough and James Marion Halford.

3) Matilda Crockett (DOB 8/2/1821 in Lawrence County, TN; DOD 7/6/1890 in Kenton, Gibson County, TN) married Thomas P. Tyson, James Wilson and Redland Fields.

Crockett was a natural leader. In 1817, Crockett moved the family to new acreage in Lawrence County, where he first entered public office as a commissioner helping to configure the new county's boundaries. He advanced from justice of the peace to two terms in the Tennessee legislature. He favored legislation to ease the tax burden on the poor. Crockett spent his entire legislative career fighting for the rights of impoverished settlers who he felt dangled on the precipice of losing title to their land due to the state's complicated system of grants.

Less than two weeks after Crockett's 1821 election to the General Assembly, a flood of the Tennessee River destroyed Crockett's businesses. In November, Elizabeth's father, Robert Patton, deeded 800 acres of his Carroll County property to Crockett. Crockett sold off most of the acreage to help settle his debts, and moved his family to the remaining acreage on the Obion River, which remained in Carroll County until 1825 when the boundaries were reconfigured and put it in Gibson County.

In 1823, he ran against Andrew Jackson's nephew-in-law, William Edward Butler, and won a seat in the General Assembly representing the counties of Carroll, Humphreys, Perry, Henderson and Madison. He served in the first session, which ran from September through the end of November 1823, and in the second session that ran September through the end of November 1824, championing the rights of the impoverished farmers.

In 1831 Elizabeth Patton Crockett herself returned to Swannanoa for a visit. When she was ready to go back, her father, Robert Patton, decided to go with her, and died there a year later in 1832. David Crockett became the administrator of his estate

On October 25, 1824 Crockett announced his intention to run for U.S. House of Representatives. He lost that race but tried again and he easily defeated both political opponents for the 1827–29 term. He arrived in Washington D.C. and took up residence at Mrs. Ball's Boarding House, where a number of other legislators lived when Congress was in session. Jackson was elected as President in 1828. Crockett continued his legislative focus on settlers getting a fair deal for land titles, offering H.R. 27 amendment to a bill sponsored by James K. Polk. Crockett was re-elected for the 1829–31 session. He introduced H.R. 185 amendment to the land bill on January 29, 1830, but it was defeated on May 3. On February 25, 1830, he introduced a resolution to abolish the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York because he felt that it was public money going to benefit the sons of wealthy men. He spoke out against Congress giving $100,000 to the widow of Stephen Decatur, citing that Congress was not empowered to do that. He opposed Jackson's 1830 Indian Removal Act and was the only member of the Tennessee delegation to vote against it. Cherokee Chief John Ross sent him a letter on January 13, 1831 expressing his thanks for Crockett's vote. His vote was not popular with his own district, and he was defeated in the 1831 election by William Fitzgerald. "I believed it was a wicked, unjust measure…. I voted against this Indian bill, and my conscience yet tells me that I gave a good honest vote, and one that I believe will not make me ashamed in the day of judgement." - David Crockett, A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett. He broke with Andrew Jackson over a number of issues and was defeated in 1831; in 1833 he returned to Congress, this time as a Whig. Crockett ran against Fitzgerald again in the 1833 election and was returned to Congress, serving until 1835. On January 2, 1834, he introduced the land title resolution H.R. 126, but it never made it as far as being debated on the House floor. He was defeated for re-election in the August 1835 election by Adam Huntsman. On January 30, 1835, the two men were part of a crowd of lawmakers leaving the U.S. Capitol after a state funeral. As Jackson passed near the East Portico, a crazed gunman named Richard Lawrence emerged from a throng of spectators and shot at him with two pistols—both of which miraculously misfired. “Old Hickory” supposedly responded by whacking Lawrence with his cane. Crockett, meanwhile, was one of several bystanders who disarmed the would-be assassin and wrestled him to the ground.

By December 1834, Crockett was writing to friends about moving to Texas if Jackson's chosen successor Martin Van Buren was elected President. He grew disillusioned with politics and decided to join the fight in the Texas War of Independence. The next year, he discussed with his friend, Benjamin McCulloch, about raising a company of volunteers to take to Texas in the expectation that a revolution was imminent. His departure to Texas was delayed by a court appearance in the last week of October as co-executor of his deceased father-in-law's estate; he finally left his home near Rutherford in West Tennessee with three other men on Nov. 1, 1835 to explore Texas. In 1836, newspapers published the now-famous quotation attributed to Crockett upon his return to his home state: "I told the people of my district that I would serve them as faithfully as I had done; but if not, they might go to hell, and I would go to Texas."

Crockett, 49 years old, traveled with 30 well-armed men to Jackson, TN, where he gave a speech from the steps of the Madison County courthouse, and they arrived in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 12, 1835. He was famous and everywhere he went he was welcomed by people coming to see the great frontiersman and Congressman. Newspapers built him into a mythical figure.

Crockett arrived in Nacogdoches, Texas in early January 1836. On January 14, he and 65 other men signed an oath before Judge John Forbes to the Provisional Government of Texas for six months: "I have taken the oath of government and have enrolled my name as a volunteer and will set out for the Rio Grande in a few days with the volunteers from the United States." Each man was promised about 4,600 acres of land as payment.

Several months previously, Texans had driven all Mexican troops out of Mexican Texas. About 100 Texans were then garrisoned at the Alamo. The Texan force grew slightly with the arrival of reinforcements led by eventual Alamo co-commanders James Bowie and William B. Travis. On February 23, approximately 1,500 Mexicans marched into San Antonio de Béxar as the first step in a campaign to retake Texas.

On February 6, Crockett and five other men rode into San Antonio de Bexar and camped just outside the town. Crockett arrived at the Alamo Mission in San Antonio on February 8, 1836. The Mexican army arrived on 2/23/1836 led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. They immediately set up a siege. Santa Anna ordered his artillery to keep up a near-constant bombardment. The guns were moved closer to the Alamo each day, increasing their effectiveness. On 2/25/1836, they were 90 to 100 yards from the Alamo walls. The fort fired shot and the men fired rifles while volunteers burned the shacks that had been used by the Mexicans for cover. Alamo commander William Barret Travis sent many messages asking for reinforcements. Some men made it through to help reinforce. But on 3/6/1836, the Mexican Army attacked while the men slept (the Mexican artillery had quit firing on them and they took the quiet time to sleep). The noncombatants gathered in the church sacristy. Crockett paused briefly in the chapel to say a prayer before running to his post. The Mexican soldiers breached the north outer walls of the Alamo complex, and most of the Texians fell back to the barracks and the chapel, as previously planned. Crockett and his men, however, were too far from the barracks to take shelter and were the last remaining group to be in the open. They defended the low wall in front of the church, using their rifles as clubs and relying on knives, as the action was too furious to allow reloading. Some 200 defenders died in the 90 minute battle.


Some of the men evidently surrendered or were taken alive, but it was said that General Santa Anna refused to take prisoners and commanded they be murdered. Staff officers drew their swords and killed them. Crockett either died in the battle or was killed by the Mexican officers after the battle. Either way, he and his fellow fighters died as heroes! Santa Anna ordered his men to take the bodies to a nearby stand of trees, where they were stacked together and wood piled on top. That evening, they lit a fire and burned their bodies to ashes. The ashes were left undisturbed until February 1837, when Juan Seguin and his cavalry returned to Bexar to examine the remains. A local carpenter created a simple coffin, and ashes from the funeral pyres were placed inside. The names of Travis, Crockett, and Bowie were inscribed on the lid. The coffin is thought to have been buried in a peach tree grove, but the spot was not marked and can no longer be identified.

The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Santa Anna's cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians—both Texas settlers and adventurers from the United States—to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the revolution.

Of the noncombatants, in an attempt to convince other slaves in Texas to support the Mexican government over the Texian rebellion, Santa Anna spared Travis' slave, Joe. Each woman was given a blanket and two silver pesos. Juana Navarro Alsbury and the other Tejano women were allowed to return to their homes in Béxar; Susanna Dickinson, her daughter and Joe were sent to Gonzales, escorted by Ben. They were encouraged to relate the events of the battle, and to inform the remainder of the Texian forces that Santa Anna's army was unbeatable. These were the survivors who told the story.

In the 1840 U.S. Census it looks like Elizabeth Patton Crockett is living with her married daughter, Rebecca Elvira Crockett Kimbrough in Dyer, Gibson County, TN. In the 1850 U.S. Census, Elizabeth Patton Crockett is living in Gibson County, TN with her widowed daughter, Matilda Crockett Tyson.

Some time later Elizabeth Crockett and all three children, John W., William and Margaret, carried out a move to Texas on their own. Elizabeth died at the age of 72 on 1/31/1860 in Acton, Hood County, TX.

The John Finley I descend from lived on South River in the Fisherville, Virginia area. John Finley was a common name and as such caused confusion as to who fathered who and who did what...Boone was likely friends with more than one John Finley. There is a bit of disagreement about which John Finley led Daniel Boone through Cumberland Gap. The John Finley, that history recognizes, was married with children in 1769, but others, who knew the John Finley who led Boone, said he was a bachelor in 1769. Mary "Polly" Finley’s Grandfather, John Finley, is another candidate to have led Boone, because he was a bachelor in 1769 and he knew the route, His father, also named John Finley, was on the Walker expedition that found and named Cumberland Gap in 1748. Her Grandfather settled in the Knoxville/Maryville area from the area of Fisherville, Virginia along Middle River and owned land in more than one place in the Knoxville/Maryville area. - William Finley 12/16/2019, Thank you, Mr. Finley!


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